25 km, 1.5 hours
Last night was cold! We were able to get warm enough wearing our wool tights and shirts and bundling into our sleeping bags – but at various times in the night we each awoke to cold feet and other body parts. We definitely need to get a warmer liner or outer blanket if we are going to camp out here. In the morning, when Becky got up to take pictures of the frost on our tents, the temperature on her bike computer read -4 degrees C. And this was after it had warmed up a bit! Brrrr.. Despite the cold, we do enjoy camping.
Fortunately, the sun came up and the temperature rose quickly. No one had come to visit us in the night. Although we are sure we were seen, we were left to camp in peace. This also meant that we did not need to rush in the morning. We took our time getting warmed up, having breakfast, and allowing the tent to dry before packing it up. Becky even did yoga!
Our ride into Aleppo was not difficult, but Becky was struggling. The cold that had been plaguing her throughout most of Turkey had come back with a vengeance. Over the last couple of days camping, adrenaline had kept the worst of it at bay, but now that we were entering the city and a place of comfort, she was tiring much sooner than she would have liked.
Drivers in Syria are more aggressive than in Turkey, but they are still accustomed to slow moving vehicles on the road, and in general left us lots of room. This was even on the motorway – cloverleafs, three lanes in each direction, but a nice wide shoulder.
We made it into Aleppo, and thanks to Friedel and Andrew, we did not need to do much research to find a comfortable place to stay. We are staying at the Hotel Al-Gawaher. Wendy and Becky went in to see the rooms and negotiate a price. We were originally quoted 800 SP per night, but asked for 750 SP, at which point Ahmed (the manager) said, I like cyclists so how about 700 SP! That was the most unusual negotiation Becky has ever experienced. Clearly we hadn’t started low enough.
Hotel Al-Gawaher is friendly, safe, clean, has heat and hot water, and has a gas hot plate so we can cook our own meals. It is a perfect place to sit tight and recover from our colds. Our plan is to be here at least 5 nights, and likely week or so. We will stay until our colds clear up or we feel a burning need to move on.